Affordable Housing In Montana Is Getting Harder To Find
The First Time I Had A Hard Time Finding A Home In Montana
Back in 2011, I moved to Billings, Montana for a radio station job. Never in my life had I ever encountered higher rent and housing that was harder to find. It's the only time in my life I wasn't chosen for a rental (or like 10) that I applied for, and I ended up living in an apartment, which I hate, but it was SO much better and affordable than the month and a half I'd been living in a hotel with my kids and dogs.
Fast forward to when I moved back to Great Falls in around 2014-2015. I found a place to live in a DAY. It wasn't the greatest place, but it was clean and affordable and I got it THAT DAY. Then, things started getting a little harder to find, and I got much pickier. I took a year to find the house I live in now. It was still affordable and I moved into the HOUSE for just under $2,000.
Then Came 2020 And Covid
Then the pandemic hit and rent skyrocketed. I couldn't believe what I saw rent-wise during the pandemic. I had moved into my house January 2020, and I felt SO lucky to have found the house and moved when I did.
Recently, I've seen a few properties that are a bit more affordable, but I have to admit, prices are still completely outrageous. I'm actually terrified as to what I'll do if my rent is raised again. It's getting pretty pricey for that 650 square feet, but it's still LOW RENT compared to what I see around town. My daughter has a 3 bedroom house that we feel is an EXCELLENT deal for around $1,600 a month. 4 years ago, I feel that house would be maybe $1,000 a month.
This long rant, leads me to an article from Montana's NPR that I caught recently. In this article, it says that 50% of renters are being priced out of where they live, no matter what they try to stay housed.
I fell this is significant:
Over the past two years, Genuine Campbell was shocked at how rent for her two-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia just kept going up — from $1,300 a month to $1,600. She's a single mom of four, and right as her rent was rising, her hours as a hotel valet were getting cut.
Add in utility costs plus inflation, and every month brought a wrenching decision.
"Do you want to pay the bills and then give half the rent, or do you want to try to do the whole rent and then be back on bills?" she says.
Landlords Deserve To Make A Profit But When Does It Get To Be Too Much?
I'm not saying that landlords who purchase property should give away rent. I'm not saying that they and their property don't count. They do. This goes back to human decency. I get wanting to have money. I get wear and tear. Landlords have chosen this and I feel there's an obligation to decent housing at a decent price. Not FREE, not an entitlement, but your single renter shouldn't cover the payments on 3 pieces of property, and you know it.
What I feel we may see if this rental situation doesn't cool down for now, we might see empty rentals all around us. How many building payments can be made with nobody paying you?
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